You know those people in your Facebook feed? The ones who are yelping that Christmas is too commercial now and that no one remembers that “Jesus is the reason for the season”? The ones who are crusading to “put the Christ back in Christmas”?
Those people drive me nuts.
I think they are missing a huge point: Christmas has evolved to be a holiday for everyone who wants to celebrate it – whether they are Bible-loving Christians or not.
I feel perfectly comfortable saying this, and I’m a Christian – Catholic, to be exact. I know the original, religious meaning of Christmas, and my family and I celebrate it. We’ve got the Nativity scene and the advent wreath. We (try to) go to church. I even started reading a daily advent devotional this year.
But I don’t claim Christmas as only mine.
I’m more than okay with Christmas being everyone’s holiday. I love that Christmas has become a celebration of all that’s good in society: Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. Happiness. None of those things is specific to a religion. They’re specific to humanity.
Yes, Christmas absolutely has its roots in Christianity. It is a religious holiday for many people. Whether some people like it or not, though, Christmas doesn’t HAVE to be about religion for everyone.
So many things about Christmas have nothing to do with baby Jesus being born. Actually, ancient pagan practices are what drive a lot of the things we love about Christmas. Santa is secular (he has Christian roots, sure, but he’s totally secular now). Christmas trees, twinkling lights, festive wreaths, gingerbread houses…these are all fun Christmas things that aren’t religious, and as a Christian I’m totally okay with that.
By the way, we live in America, my friends. Not everyone is Christian, and many people have no reason or desire to celebrate Christmas, due to religious or other beliefs. We need to keep this in mind. I struggle with the fact that, even though I love it, Christmas permeates every aspect of American life in December. That’s difficult even if you view Christmas as a secular holiday, but still don’t celebrate it. But as we all know, Christmas isn’t going anywhere. Ever. It will always be a thing in America. Christianity has always been a part of our social fabric and probably always will be, for better or for worse. Faced with that fact, I like the idea of making this time of year as inclusive as possible, while not shoving Christmas in the faces of those who don’t want it.
I think a lot about my friends who are not Christian and feel overwhelmed by all the Christmas stuff for six weeks a year. I cringe when I’m at the grocery store and the Christmas music is blaring to an obviously culturally-diverse crowd. There’s not a whole lot that I can do to ease the onslaught of Christmas on my non-Christian friends, but I do what I can. I send out a holiday card instead of a Christmas card. I educate my kids about different cultural beliefs (and thankfully, their schools do an excellent job of this, too). And when I see a friend who I know is celebrating a different tradition, I ask about her celebrations and how things are going. Isn’t that the most Christian – and just plain kind and caring – thing to do?
As for the people who rage that commercialism has ruined Christmas? Whatever. It’s only ruined Christmas if you’ve let it. Christmas is about giving! What’s better than that? It’s all about spreading joy through holiday cards and reconnecting with friends at parties. Baking, cooking, making merry – all to celebrate the things that make life wonderful, like friends, family, and community. Many, many people spend much of this season donating time, money, and gifts to those less fortunate. Between my church, my girls’ schools, and my girls’ Girl Scout troops, we are giving left and right – and it’s awesome.
So if you’re Christian, sure – don’t forget the reason for the season. Celebrate Jesus’ birth and all the joy that goes with it. But please don’t begrudge non-Christians their Christmas, too. You don’t have to be religious to celebrate the meaning of Christmas – which I’d argue is love. And love belongs to everyone.
What are your thoughts on Christmas and religion?
PS: If you want more thoughts on Christmas beliefs, check out this post on the day a little girl made a big announcement about Santa to my kindergartener’s class. Uh-oh.
PPS: And if you want some holiday funny, here’s how NOT to get a great holiday card photo of your kids, and my (fictional) humble brag Christmas card letter I wrote for Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Plus you can read about why my Elf on the Shelf is defective. And naughty. Happy holidays!